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Pain Research and Management
Volume 18, Issue 1, Pages 39-45
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/857045
Original Article

The Effects of Mindful Attention on Cold Pressor Pain in Children

Mark Petter,1,2 Christine T Chambers,1,2,3,4 and Jill MacLaren Chorney1,2,5

1Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
2Centre for Pediatric Pain Research, IWK Health Centre, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
3Departments of Pediatrics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
4Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
5Anesthesiology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Typical interventions for acute pain in children attempt to reduce pain by directing attention away from pain. Conversely, mindfulness involves devoting attention to one’s experience in an accepting and nonjudgmental way. However, the effect that instructing children to mindfully devote attention to acute pain has on pain outcomes is unknown.

OBJECTIVES: To examine whether mindful attention can help children attend to pain without increasing pain intensity or decreasing pain tolerance; to compare the effects of mindful attention with a well-established intervention designed to take attention away from pain (guided imagery); and to test whether baseline coping style or trait mindfulness alter the effects of these interventions.

METHODS: A total of 82 children (10 to 14 years of age) completed measures of coping style and trait mindfulness. Participants then received either mindful attention or guided imagery instructions designed to direct attention toward or away from pain, respectively, before participating in a cold pressor task.

RESULTS: The mindful attention group reported more awareness of the physical sensations of pain and thoughts about those sensations. Overall, there were no between-group differences in measures of pain intensity or pain tolerance during the cold pressor task, and no evidence of an interaction between baseline characteristics of the child and experimental condition.

CONCLUSIONS: Mindful attention was successful in helping children focus attention on experimental pain without increasing pain intensity or decreasing tolerance compared with a well-established intervention for acute pain reduction.